Chicken Soup for Writers

Savage Chickens by Doug Savage

It’s been cold and raining in California (I’m wearing a blue wool sweater, for goodness sakes!), with more rain on the way this weekend.  Timing rather sucks.  I’m off to Las Vegas for a business/birthday trip with my daughter Stacee–hoping the weather doesn’t cancel all the fun.

Earlier today a writing friend, Kristen, asked for the recipe for my chicken soup, which I shared with the Tuesday night home group this week; Kristen’s a member, and I’m flattered she wants the recipe.  But I have 60-odd essays to grade, a class to teach tonight at UCI, packing to do, kitties to feed–you know the drill because you do it too.  AND I have a commitment to that is so challenging I wouldn’t even take it on this year except I’m desperate to write the long-postponed writing text.  The Nano commitment doesn’t take into accout full-time jobs (plural) or trips with daughters or writing recipes for friends, to say nothing of grading essays and feeding the furry poppets. It doesn’t CARE that you’re busy.  It just wants WORDS.

In case you’re thinking what’s the big deal, don’t write today, well, that’s not really an option, because Nano’s a commitment to myself.  Nano is just the venue–the guilt-tripping catalyst–the bloody conscience.

Now, I’ve just had a cold and my friend Jenny has one now, so to save my sanity, inspire Jenny’s hubby to cook for her, get Kristen the recipe, and get some pages written, I’m posting the recipe.  I think that’ll satisfy everybody (Isn’t that what a woman’s always trying to do, wearing all those hats?).   Besides, writers need all the loving support they can get.

To be perfectly above-board, I’m going to have to find a way to get the chicken soup recipe into the writing text.  But that’s a dragon to slay another day.

Meanwhile, here’s my Nanowrimo submission for today:

Lou’s Chicken Soup

You’ll need:

  • a roasted chicken
  • 1 ½ – 2 Qt water if using ½ chicken; 3+ Qt if using a whole chicken
  • fresh cilantro sprigs with leaves—about 5**
  • a thin (1/2” +/-) slice of jalapeño if you want a peppered or spicy soup
  • 1 cup rice, cooked in chicken stock (short-brown or even Bhutanese red rice have great body and food value)*
  • veggies including sweet or yellow onion, celery, two medium carrots with 1” tops, and other veggies to your taste
  • salt and pepper to taste (no pepper if using jalapeño)
  • 5 additional** sprigs fresh cilantro, minced, for garnish
  • an avocado, diced into ½” pieces, also for garnish

Prepare the vegetables, reserving the trims for cooking with the bones:
Onion, carrot, and celery form the base of vegetables and you can get creative from there.
Trim carrots, reserving ½” plus some stems from carrot tops.
Trim stem area of squash, ends and peels of onion, turnip, sweet potato, a small tomato, etc—whatever veggies you have in the fridge.
Trim the ends and some leaves from 1-2 stalks of celery.
You can even put in the corn cobs after trimming off the corn, or trims from green beans and mushrooms.)
Dice the veggies into ½” pieces.

De-bone and reserve chicken from the roasted bird, “pulling” or chopping the meat into 1” pieces.

Make the stock:
Fill a pot with water and the bones, some skin, and a little of the fat and bring to a simmer.
Add to the pot sprigs of fresh cilantro, jalapeno if you want a peppered or spicy soup, and vegetable trims.
Simmer bones, cilantro, and trims for 45-60 minutes, covered to preserve the liquid.
Cool slightly.
Sieve out trims and bones, returning the liquid to the pot.

Make the soup:
Add in the chopped onion, celery, and carrots and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
Add other veggies and simmer till cooked to your preference.
Add in rice.
Mushrooms, if using, should be added with the chicken and a dot of butter.
Add the chicken, bring back to bubble stage, and simmer for 2-3 minutes till heated entirely.

Serve in heavy bowls and garnish with minced cilantro and chopped avocado.  Warm, buttered corn tortillas are wonderful with this soup.  Refrigerate and reheat or freeze left-overs for future writing marathons.


I’ve also used barley or potatoes or pasta rather than rice and served the soup with crostini (thin-sliced French bread brushed with garlic-infused olive oil and baked till crisp).  Barley must cook a long time, so prepare ahead at a time when your brain is so fried from writing that you gotta work with your hands.  Raw diced potatoes would be added about 10-12 minutes after the celery, onion, and carrots.  For pasta, follow package directions.  I’ve also added 2 TBS. crushed fresh marjoram leaves from my garden when making the stock.

13 responses to “Chicken Soup for Writers

  1. Pingback: Recipe for Oh Yeah! | Sonia G Medeiros

  2. Sounds so delicious! I love cilantro. We eat a lot of pho and cilantro is so good in that. Haven’t tried it with my chicken soup. I usually make a bunch of chicken and beef stock and freeze it in one or two cup portions to use for soups and such. Yum!


    • What a great idea, freezing a bunch of soup stock. I made beef stock once. The recipe called for me to bake the veggie trims and bones in the oven at 250 degrees for something like 24 hours, then cook it all in water. It was yummy. I love pho too! Thanks for commenting!


  3. I’m going to have to try that soup recipe, and I totally agree with you that writing is a commitment to one’s art and one’s self. NaNoWriMo puts that in a pressure cooker because of the insane time constraints and as you pointed out, the complete disregard for other obligations. There is no way I could do well, my inner editor would have a field day trying to write without going back and revising.

    Have a good trip!


    • Yes, I know what you mean about the internal editor. I sat down this afternoon to up my word-count, and the very first thing I did was flash my gaze over the last paragraph and change a verb. It never stops! But for Nanowrimo, I set a goal for myself that is NOT a whole book or 50K words, but some essential chapters that I know will be a good start to the book. That way Nanowrimo works FOR me and doesn’t stress me out. Since it’s a textbook for writers, I started with Characterization and will go on to Plot, and I also wrote a Table of Contents and an Introduction, so at least the overall project is organized. Thanks for blogging with me!


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